|Cleaning up my forums - a couple of questions|
I'm currently in the process of summer-cleaning my site (mostly widget forums) and in the course of that, a couple of questions popped up concerning Google that I couldn't find clear-cut answers to. Although there may not be any, a couple of extra opinions would be highly appreciated.
- When using "noindex" for pages that I don't want in the search engines, will these pages still pass pagerank?
- In an internet forum, what's the most appropriate way to deal with duplicate content (pretty much all forum programs have links to threads, but also links to posts within that thread, which results in different links showing the same content). Up to now, I've nofollowed the second type of links to make it easier for the bots, but now I've read that internal links shouldn't be nofollowed and that PageRank should flow freely within a site, which leaves me kinda confused I guess.
- Many (pre-css) years ago I applied the so-called table cell layout trick to make sure my site menu, although viewable at the top of the page, shows up at the bottom of the html. The plan was to make sure the unique content comes first and search engines have an easier time to find the distinct content for each page. Recently I've read though that the most important links on a page should be close to the top, since they are given more attention and Pagerank. Is that true?
- a noindex robots meta tag does not stop page rank from flowing through. If the full attribute is "noindex,follow" any target urls will still receive page rank..
- "internal links shouldn't be nofollowed". I'm not sure who decided to dictate that rule, but it ain't necessarily so. However, you can certainly use robots.txt to disallow the url patterns that result in duplicate content getting indexed.
- It is true that clever approaches such as "ye olde table trick" or "source-ordered content" no longer offer all the ranking advantage that they used to. Google has definitely matured.
I can say that links toward the bottom of the source code are a lot less likely to show up as Site Links. But, I doubt that whoever passed that "advice" had done a lot of actual testing - to any degree of statistical signficance - before sharing their opinion.
Lonks in the content segment of a page do mean a lot more than links in the top-navigation, for instance. Google can tell what is just "page template" and what is not.
I also notice that you're wording very carefully on the question of link position within a page - especially as you're saying that the navigation links towards the bottom do no longer offer "all" the ranking advantage they used to. Do you think this approach still has its merits? (At this point I'm considering to move the navigation back to the top of the source code since that's where my visitors see it, so if Google is smart enough to tell, there's no reason to show them anything else.) Thanks again!
I wouldn't bother changing the table-trick code. I don't think it matters enough to change the template source for all those pages.
Whether to use noindex,follow for links to your utility pages is up to you. It might help internal PR circulation. My prediction is that ranking boost, if any, would be minor. From what you say, you are already using the noindex meta anyway - so I'd say there's nothing further to be gained in your case.
It might be a better use of your time to take a close look at how the forum pages interlink - and make sure that those links are used intelligently rather than without any real thought for what signals they are sending.
Will do - thanks for your insight.